Informant

Criminal justice news from KALW's "The Informant."

Imagine you’re 18 years old and you commit a crime. A robbery. You go to prison at one of the only women’s facilities in the state. You get out a year later, on parole – and you’re back in the same neighborhood where you first got in trouble. You commit another crime. And the cycle starts all over again. That’s what happened to Courtney Samson.

Photo courtesy of: Paige Kaneb

It's the early 90s. Young people are watching MTV, their parents Twin Peaks. Maurice Caldwell is 22 years old and lives in the Alemany projects in Bernal Heights, on the same streets where he grew up. He works in an industrial warehouse in Hayward and likes to hang out with his friends.

But, he admits today, he was also a troublemaker. “I wasn't a choir boy,” says Caldwell. “I sold drugs, from time to time.” And, from time to time, he’d come in contact with police.

On today's Your Call, we’ll mark the beginning of the 55th annual San Francisco International Film Festival by discussing one of it’s featured films--Jamie Meltzer’s Informant.  The film follows the story of Brandon Darby, a charismatic activist turned FBI informant. Since 9/11, the FBI has built a network of more than 15,000 informants. How much impunity does the FBI have for entrapment?

UC Davis police officers dousing a line of seated Occupy protesters with pepper spray should and could have been prevented, according to a scathing 190-page report released Wednesday by a campus task force created to investigate the incident.

“Even a cursory reading of the report confirms what we have known from the start: Friday, Nov. 18 was a bad day for the UC Davis community and for the entire UC system,” UC President Mark Yudof said in a statement on the release of UC Davis pepper-spray report.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stasiland/1520181771/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Santa Cruz Deputy Chief Steve Clark has been with the Police Department for 25 years. But there are some things that even experience doesn’t teach. Up until now, he’s been trained to respond to incidents.

This morning at San Francisco’s City Hall, members of the SAFE California Coalition submitted signatures to the Department of Elections to put an initiative on the November ballot that would end the death penalty in California. Proponents say they gathered over 800,000 signatures, which will now be reviewed by elections officials before they’re able to send the proposal to voters. If passed, the initiative would replace capital punishment with life without the possibility of parole.

 

A new bill is on the block would allow counties to use AB 109 funds to pay for out-of-state contracts to house inmates, similar to how the states currently contract with other states. Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson and Senator Tony Strickland introduced the bill in hopes of giving counties more options for housing inmates sentenced to local jails. Jackson spoke with KALW’S Nicole Jones on why he thinks this is a smart move for overburdened counties.Al

Photo by Rina Palta

If you’re convicted of committing a felony in California, you can end up in many kinds of prisons. Steal a lot of money in a Ponzi scheme – you might end up in minimum security. Locked up, but with little supervision. Commit a violent crime, and you could be sent to a medium-security prison, like Folsom. Kill someone, and you could be headed for supermax.

Ali Winston

This piece comes to us from City Limits, an independent, non-profit, investigative magazine based in New York City. 

Dan4th Nicholas

As with much conventional wisdom on crime and punishment, popular notions of what actually causes recidivism--people cycling repeatedly in and out of prison--don't hold up when you look at the statistics. California's latest report analyzing its notoriously high (currently 65 percent) recidivism rate contains an array of numerical nuggets that shed new light on the cycle of crime. A sampling:

Joe Mud

Yesterday, officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation travelled to Chowchilla in the Central Valley to talk to locals about the pending conversion of Valley State Prison for Women into a men’s facility. Chowchilla, the closest town to two of the state’s three women’s prisons, has resisted the conversion, worried about the impact of bringing in thousands of male prisoners.

Rachel Towne

The previous year was a huge one for criminal justice in California, and 2012 promises to be just as dramatic. This year we’ll see the continued fallout of California’s prison overcrowding crisis, which coupled with the state’s financial crisis, is opening the doors to reforms never thought possible in our state. Here are three big issues to watch this coming year. Capital punishment A piece in Time Magazine today suggests that capital punishment is “slowly dying” in the United States.

The state came close to meeting its first court-imposed benchmark for reducing the prison population last week. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, readying its January 10 report to the federal court in the Northern District of California, announced it’s currently operating at 169.2 percent of its designed capacity. That number nearly hits the 167-percent figure the court demanded California meet by December 27, 2011.

Under CC license from S_falkow. http://www.flickr.com/photos/safari_vacation/5929769873/

It’s been a significant year for criminal justice in the Bay Area, but many of the challenges have come late in the year.

barjack

Earlier this week, the California Department of Justice released its annual report, “Homicide in California.” This most recent report, a good barometer for the state of violent crime, shows the homicide rate, now at 4.7 per 100,000 people, dropping for a fifth consecutive year to reach its lowest point since 1966. Other interesting facts from the report include:

In 2012, a big shift will hit California’s electoral system: open primaries. Open primaries, brought in by voters through 2010′s Proposition 14, will allow the top two vote-getters in any primary for state office to advance to the general election, which means we could see districts with two Republicans or two Democrats competing in a general election.

Occupy Oakland made a peaceful return to Frank Ogawa Plaza last night following a march by several hundred from the Public Library on 14th and Madison to City Hall. Despite holding a packed General Assembly in the amphitheater, dozens of Oakland Police positioned throughout the plaza and the surrounding streets deterred any attempts to set up tents or permanently retake the plaza.